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Sitting still is bad for you, it counts as “Sedentary Behaviour” as you are not using much energy while you do it, even if you are watching TV, reading a book or using a computer.

Sedentary behaviour or sitting down for a long time can have a severe effect on physical and mental health, particularly for older people. Sedentary behaviours are more common and long-term in older people.

Glasgow Caledonian University are leading on a major piece of research on Understanding Sedentary Patterns in Older People. You can listen to some of the researchers discussing the effects of too much sitting by registering to listen to a webinar which took place in August 2014. 

What are the issues with Sedentary Behaviour?

Current research shows that sedentary behaviour can impact on our metabolism, physiology, health and wellbeing. It is now recognised that long periods of prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health outcomes. This means that rather than just focusing on reaching certain levels of physical activity, people should also be aware of how long they sit for in a day. Public health guidance indicates that people should avoid prolonged periods of sitting. 

The researchers on the Understanding Sedentary Patterns study have produced an evidence briefing on the health risks of sedentary behaviour in older people and the British Heart Foundation National Centre has produced an evidence briefing on sedentary behaviour in adults. This gives an overview of the research that can assist policy makers and practitioners to influence work in this area. 

Research has highlighted the following key points:

  • Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide
  • Patterns of sedentary behaviour established in childhood persist with age 
  • The adverse effects of sedentary behaviours apply even if you meet the physical activity guidelines
  • Sedentary behaviours are associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease  
  • Sedentary behaviours have a negative impact on mental well-being
  • Sedentary behaviours are associated with lower leg bone mineral density in post-menopausal women

How can we address Sedentary Behaviour?

More research is needed to test effective ways that can help people reduce their sedentary time.

Read our top tips on simple things that you can do to reduce your sitting time.

'Sit Less, Move More, Feel Good!' - Download leaflet and poster pack developed as part of the Understanding Sedentary Patterns (USP) research  project

For more information: Call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222

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